Posts Tagged ‘Truth’

Matthew 13:51 – UNDERSTAND?! – Part 19

Understand?!

Why is He asking me this question? Yes, I understand! Well, not everything but I get most of what He is trying to tell me! Actually I miss quite a lot of what He is saying. OK, OK. I admit it. At times I so don’t get it.

My teacher in primary school slammed his cane down on my desk and said “Do you understand?”

My Mum scolded me with the rules of the house numerous times with “Do you understand?”

The Commanding Officer sharing with His Senior ranking Officers about the strategies of a major battle with the enemy says “Do you understand?” UNDERSTANDING is essential, especially when other lives are at stake!

If the preacher on Sunday morning asked me directly after the service “Do you understand these things” I’d have to say “Um.. which part?” but I must admit that it would FOCUS my mind the next time he spoke.

Jesus asks me that question right now and I have to say “No Lord. I don’t understand. Please teach me more so that I can understand.” He looks at me with eyes that pierce through to the heart and says “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge…” (Matthew 13:12 NLT). There is no rebuke or condemnation in His voice, but the importance of His words cuts deep into my soul.

Jesus repeats that idea of understanding in Matthew 13 quite a bit. He says “Anyone with ears to hear should LISTEN AND UNDERSTAND(Matthew 13:9, and 43). At least five times He speaks about the importance of UNDERSTANDING in Matthew 13:9,11,12,23,43. He doesn’t want me simply to hear what He teaches me. He wants me to GET IT! He wants me to listen carefully and comprehend His Word. Not only for my sake, but for the sake of others who come under the sphere of my influence. My understanding of His Truth will have an impact on those around me and in some way the world will change. Yes, I know, maybe the impact will be small, but the world has changed each time I get it right and share His Truth.

I notice that even the Disciples don’t understand all the time. They ask Jesus a lot of questions. Listening, being honest and asking questions is OK with Jesus. He seems to like the Berean heart. They “searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth” (Acts 17:11 NLT). I can’t live it and share His Truth if I don’t have some kind of understanding of it.

I just praise God that “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16 NLT).

When I’m not on track I just have to ask for wisdom (James 1:5) and the Holy Spirit “leads into all truth” (John 14:17). 1 Corinthians 2:16 assures me that I have access to “the mind of Christ”. He’s in charge of even my understanding when I come under His authority and get to know Him better. That means that I don’t have to be some kind of GENIUS when it comes to understanding my Bible.

Jesus said that He IS the Truth (John 14:6). Fear of the Lord (reverence for Him as King and ruler of my life) is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey His commandments will grow in wisdom” (Psalms 111:10 NLT).

Jesus says in John 5:39-40 (NLT) “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to ME! Yet you refuse to come to Me to receive this life.”

Jesus looks at me and you today and says “Do you understand these things?” These parables of life and faith. If I am honest I will reply “Not always.” The redeeming factor is that I have a relationship with the One who does. That makes all the difference. Every day.

Is it “what you know or who you know”? Or is it that “what you know helps you know He who knows you better than you know yourself”. Understanding = putting it all together about Christ.

The invitation to understand this morning is the invitation to come under the sphere of His influence for the answers you need in life by coming under His authority and giving your life to Him. God bless you with understanding as you take that incredibly important step today.

Pastor Ross

Matthew 13:36-43 – HELL, GOD’S WASTE MANAGEMENT CENTRE – Part 11

Hell

I watch as hell is washed inland with the momentum of an earthquake behind it, a wave of burning cars, buildings and debri. And in its wake the devastation of thousands lost. Earthquake, tsunami, nuclear explosion.

In the Valley of Hinnom, outside Jerusalem, refuse was burned continually day and night. It was called Gehenna, the city dump. Jesus uses it as a picture of HELL. I know that Hell is regarded as a foolish ploy of religious people to instill fear, or a metaphor of retribution, but the Bible is very clear about it being a LITERAL AND DEFINITE place, originally prepared for the devil and his angels and not us (Matthew 25:41).

We are concerned for the lives lost in Japan. What is even worse is the thought of people being separated from God for ETERNITY. As reluctant as I am to speak about hell, Jesus isn’t. Perhaps today, rather than pointing to Gehenna, Jesus would point to the smoldering, twisted rubbish dump, like a lake of fire and smoke that once was Northern Japan, and say that it is a portrait of hell. It’s an incredible waste. But Imagine God thinking that my life is a waste such as this, not only on earth but also for eternity. No wonder hell is described as “THE SECOND DEATH”.

Imagine in Japan a helicopter offering to lift someone from the path of the Tsnami. Imagine them saying “I don’t need your help”. Lots of people do that with Jesus. They say “Well, I’ve lived a pretty good life. I don’t need Jesus. I don’t need to be saved!” The arrogance that deceives me into thinking that somehow I DESERVE heaven rather than accept that Christ died for my sins to keep me from hell may be a prevalent concept today, but it is totally ego centric and highlights how spiritually blind I am. I am choosing to live on a waste dump. Or as we choose to call it a Waste Management Recycling Centre.

As I speak on this day 14th March 2011, Hell walks through the battered remains of New Zealand, Japan and threatens people at Gunpoint in Libya, but Matthew 10:28 (NLT) says “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The Bible says God is life. Those who choose to separate themselves from God separate themselves from that life for eternity, an unimaginable existence.

When Jesus gives an explanation of the parable of the WHEAT AND WEEDS being separated at the harvest, He uses strong terms. He says in Matthew 13:41-42 (NLT) “The Son of Man will send His angels, and they will remove from His Kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. And the angels will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” A comedian said if you don’t have teeth then teeth will be provided, but somehow it doesn’t seem so funny when you think that teeth gnashing describes the terrifying torment and anguish of such retribution.

Jesus is looking at some very religious people as He speaks and says “There will come a time when it will be sorted out”. The day of judgment is coming! He is simply stating it as a fact, and He is not trying to be some street preacher wearing a placard saying “Turn or burn!” Far from it. He is saying “NO-ONE ELSE has come to save you.”

John 3:17-21 (NLT) says “God sent His Son into the world NOT TO JUDGE the world, BUT TO SAVE the world through Him. There is NO JUDGMENT against anyone who BELIEVES IN HIM. But anyone who does NOT believe in Him has ALREADY been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light…”

These are words of life, not death. God loves you. He IS love. The invitation is clear. God offers us life in Christ. Jesus is the only way, truth and life. Choose life.

Pastor Ross

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Hunger and the Hunt

Part 15 – Matthew 12:42 – THE HUNGER AND THE HUNT

“She was not beautiful but her eyes were magnificient. They were piercing and caught the light as jade shards and occasionally as she passed into shadows you could catch glimses of the hunger betrayed in the depths of their opalescent gaze.

As the inquisitive marvelled at her entourage, she walked with poise towards the door, her femininity couched in trained self assurance. No-one saw the dissonance of heart and mind as the huge doors opened and she was ushered into his presence.

She entered without hesitation as befitting a queen, her eyes adjusting to the light and her mind alert, enquiring, curious. She thought she heard a voice whisper her name as the doors shut behind her and the muted echo of it’s thud sounded within the hall, but surely no-one knew her name here.

It was beautiful, the curtains and tasteful articles of furniture, and as she met his gaze, she could see that her hunt was at an end. She would find the elusive treasure that would satisfy her soul, her mind, her heart?”  

Jesus speaks of this visit of the QUEEN OF SHEBA to Solomon’s court many years later. He describes her as one who came from a distant land to hear the wisdom of Solomon. He says that as a result of that visit she will “stand up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it.” He says, “Now someone greater than Solomon is here-but you refuse to listen” (Matthew 12:42 NLT).  

I don’t know a whole lot about the Queen of Sheba but it seems as if she comes on a QUEST. She has an OVERWHELMING DESIRE to seek spiritual wisdom and her quest for truth leads her to SOLOMON. In 1 Kings 10:1 (NLT) it says “When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, which brought honour to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions.” 

This isn’t just a cursory visit on the way home from a royal holiday. This is an INTENTIONAL SEARCH to discover spiritual reality. She leaves her kingdom responsibilities behind and enters into Solomon’s territory and sphere of authority. She comes PERSONALLY and travels a great distance to get there. There is a HUNGER and questioning thirst after the things of God. She is WILLING TO LISTEN. Surely when a woman is willing to listen that says something (and of course when a man listens it is no less amazing).

Jesus says that if I am to discover spiritual wisdom and truth then the queen of Sheba is an example in the INTENTIONALITY of that search. Proverbs 2:2-6 (NLT), written by Solomon, puts it this way “Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.” 

Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT) speaks of our search for God and assures us that “if you SEARCH for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.” 

Jesus claims to be GREATER than Solomon. Not only does He HAVE THE TRUTH but He claims to BE THE TRUTH. He says in John 14:6 (NLT) “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” He goes on to say that it is only “…the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.” (John 14:16-17 NLT)

God bless you in your spiritual quest as you search for Him, listen to Him, respond to Him today. Solomon expresses the timeless response of God to your quest in Proverbs 8:17 (NLT) as He speaks to you today “I love all who love Me. Those who search will surely find Me.”

Pastor Ross

Part 10 – Matthew 12:24-30 – GOD, YOU ARE SO NARROW MINDED AND INFLEXIBLE!

Narrow Minded and Inflexible?

There’s a fictional story of the soldier in the American civil war who did not want to fight with anyone. In an attempt to remain NEUTRAL, he dressed in Union pants and a Confederate jacket. Unfortunately BOTH SIDES shot at him.

Jesus says “Anyone who isn’t WITH Me OPPOSES Me, and anyone who isn’t working WITH Me is actually working AGAINST Me”(Matthew 12:30 NLT). There is no room for COMPROMISE or equivocation here. When Jesus says in John 14:6 (NLT) “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me”, He means it! No other way! No other truth! No other life! At first glance this is such an exclusive, elite, INFLEXIBLE kind of statement.

No wonder people see Christians as uncaring when they hear these words used like a sledge hammer against any OTHER RELIGION or against anyone who does not believe in Christ. It implies that God is UNLOVING and rigidly bent on sending people to hell.

If God is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9), why won’t He accept those who don’t believe in Jesus alone? What about BUDDHISM? What about HINDUISM? What about ISLAM? What about OTHER RELIGIONS? Half the world doesn’t want anything to do with Christ? Isn’t God rather ARROGANT AND EXCLUSIVE? Narrow minded! WHAT IS JESUS SAYING HERE?

On examination of the Bible, Jesus statement is not emphasising EXCLUSIVISM so much as it is defining a REALITY. God so LOVED the world that He has to tell us that there is NO-ONE ELSE there to SAVE us! (see John 3:16). He is saying “I love you and I came to pay the price of sin for you personally so you could experience God’s love.” No-one else did that. No-one else will do that! No-one else could! No other gods are real! BUDDHA didn’t come to save us. MOHAMMED didn’t come to die for us or come back to life for us. SUICIDE BOMBERS don’t die to save us but to kill us.

All the founders of modern day religions are either dead themselves or they are non-existent. The only good thing about all religions is that they are an attempt by us to reach out to God but they will not save us. At best they will lead us to Jesus. At worst they will distract us from the only rescue mission that we have available.

Jesus found a way for you and me to come back to God and enter into relationship with Him. It wasn’t going to happen unless He came and died for us! Jesus is saying, “There is NO OTHER way, truth or life. Life is found in Me. Love is found in Me. The truth is that without Me, you are LOST!”

He draws a line in the sand. There is no SYNCRETISM with Jesus. No room for DOUBLEMINDEDNESS. Syncretism is the attempt to reconcile opposing beliefs by combining and merging different traditions and beliefs in “a great big melting pot” to have them come out in all pretty rainbow colours of equal proportion.

Jesus is saying in effect, “Make up your mind about Me, one way or another. Respond to Me! Stop vacillating!” And He loves you enough to give you a choice. As Joshua said of old “… CHOOSE today whom you will serve. … But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15 NLT)

In 1 Kings 18:21 (NLT) Elijah said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent.” Jesus doesn’t want us to remain dumb about what we believe.

When Jesus heals a demon possessed man, Jesus makes it clear that He is stronger than Satan, not on equal in terms of power and status. He says “the Kingdom of God has arrived” (Matthew 12:26-30). He is not only speaking of His heavenly kingdom (Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven) but of His authority as a King to rule over my life today and always. He is speaking of His victorious power over sin and Satan. And He is speaking of His love for us because there is no other kingdom of God in which we can trust in order to be saved.

God bless you Church as you refuse to compromise concerning your trust in Jesus Christ alone as your Lord and Saviour. Allow heaven’s authority to be a reality in your life and experience Christ’s love for you today. In Him God launched the only rescue mission that will ever be able to save you from your sin.

Pastor Ross

Part 1 – Genesis 20:1-10 – HE’S A FRAUD!

HE'S A FRAUD! HE'S A FRAUD!

Diary entry – “Full circle! Here I am again. Dealing with the same old things over and over in my life. You would think that eventually I would get it – that God wants to fulfill His purposes in my life if only I’d GET OFF THE ROUND-A-BOUT. I reach great heights on the FERRIS WHEEL only to find myself back where I began” – Abraham.

He lay in a bed seat, slightly twisted and looking at me with one eye half open. I was finishing a small Bible study devotional with a group of aged people on a passage from the book of Job in the Bible, telling them that God loves them and still has a purpose for their lives, to look UPWARD NOT INWARD even when things don’t always go as they plan.

With a croaky voice filled with the bile of his past and exposed by his dementia he shouted “He’s a fraud! He’s a fraud! Don’t listen to him! Don’t listen to him! He only wants your money! He’s a fraud!” It was disconcerting to say the least. All of a sudden it was me that was looking inward instead of upward and I needed to be reminded of Jesus’ words. 

Jesus said “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life…” (John 14:6). He is my Truth. He enables me to live a life of INTEGRITY. With Christ in my life I am able to live how God intends me to live and be GENUINE before Him and others and even myself, WITHOUT HYPROCRISY. NOTHING FRAUDULENT ABOUT THAT!

The Bible says that it is the devil who is a LIAR and a FRAUD! John 8:44 (NLT) “…He has always HATED THE TRUTH, because there is NO TRUTH IN HIM. When he LIES, it is consistent with his character; for he is a LIAR AND THE FATHER OF LIES.” 

The Bible doesn’t hide the rather sobering fact that even a great man like Abraham can get it wrong and start USING THE DEVILS TACTICS. Genesis 20 confirms to me that the habits of a lifetime are difficult to break, but also that God is PATIENT. He says “So let’s deal with this again.”

Abraham, it seems, lacks complete confidence and trust in God and feels he has to LIE in order to survive. He shows me that I can move to a different part of the country and still find myself in the same place spiritually. I can get a little older and still be just as immature. Maturity has nothing to do with aging. Believe me, I know. ROUND AND AROUND. Abraham’s life in Genesis 20:2 is looking like a RE-RUN of an old movie from Genesis 12:13.

The false accusations of an old man crying out “You’re a fraud!” hurt me but they also made me realize that I need to stay close to Christ who is the Truth and to His Word, the Bible. 1 Corinthians 10:12 in the Message version says “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.”  

Galatians 6:7 (NLT) says “Don’t be misled-you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always HARVEST WHAT YOU PLANT.”

Lord, KEEP ME FROM EVIL so that I don’t bring disrepute to You or others or to myself. Let me live righteously before you today and in the joy of my salvation. Let me be a blessing to others today and live a life without hypocrisy.

God bless you Church as God replaces the habits of a lifetime with the habits of Holy living and the harvest of a fruitful life in Christ. In Him, you are not a FRAUD but a FORGIVEN, FAULTLESS, FAITH-FILLED FRIEND OF GOD, fru (I mean through) Christ.

Pastor Ross